Nov 262010

I found the pictures of this magic wand in my old records. I made it in November of 2004, for a woman who lives in Singapore.

This was a monumental work.  The rod is, of course, Rosewood. Mayling sent the twinned crystals to me before I began the work. The crystals were much larger than what I had been used to working with, and I tried to find a balance between their imposing diameter and the grace that I try to achieve in my shapes.

Along with the crystals, she sent a handful of lesser-quality crystals, which I pounded into fine sand. When I set the crystals into their sockets, I bedded them in the quartz sand plus silk fiber.

Mayling wanted a silver or gold wire link running down the inside of the rod, but I don’t have that drilling capacity.

Instead, I used one strand of gold wire, and two of silver and wrapped  them around the outside of the rod, anchoring them with hand fashioned silver staples, each of which became the stem of a grape leaf– cut from Silver sheet. I was able to find a small amount of goldfilled headpins with larger than usual heads, and those became the “grapes.”

A truly one of a kind creation!

Nov 172010

Five-and-a-half years ago, I went along with my costume-maker sister Kristi Smart to Pantheacon in San Jose.

WandWorks table at Kristi Smart Coats booth

I just found this picture; you can see that I enjoy creating displays from found objects. In this case, the horizontal rack is an Art deco mirror frame that was on its last legs. I didn’t feel too badly about tucking a sheet of thin plywood in where the mirror had been, and some silver leaf satisfied my love of the shiney–  a wash of nicotine-yellow  glaze over  that made a more satisfactory backdrop for the wands. I sent wooden drawer knobs climbing up each side, and hinged another bit of plywood in the back to make it stand up.

The curling design painted into the back, by the way, comes from a rather obscure book which I adore, by the magnificent Ursula K. LeGuin, called “Always Coming Home.”

The storage bins below are the frames from a Singer Sewing machine treadle table that a junk man was hauling off.  I made floors and walls for each compartment…

And yes, those are *cough* phallic objects upstanding there, next to the little froggie.

There’s a larger version of this picture, if you want to see more detail;  clickies

Jun 022008

Yesterday, my son and his friends suddenly scrambled out of my woodshop– out the window, instead of the door.

“Bees!” They were swarming around the grapefruit tree that stands just outside the woodshop door. They were so loud, that when I went to look I thought someone had left my sander running!

Within a half-hour, the swarm had formed itself into a compact, living, ball of bronze and gold. Somewhere in the middle, a young Queen is resting, whilst scouts search for a suitable hiving space.

In this chicken-coop I call home, there ought to be many places where bees can live in safety, but the ball could disappear to parts unknown just as easily. I would like them to stay, what wonderful magic! Even so, I know of an apiarist who maintains bees at a nearby college. I’ve put in a call in case he wants them.

By the way, these are not africanised bees, who would have kept swirling in the air as long as the ball is in one spot– not to mention attacking us as we stood there agape!

Apr 102008

Yesterday I gave my son a ride to school (he normally takes the train), and that put me about ten minutes from Bonhoff Lumber, down on the far south side. Instead of going home and getting my coffee like a sensible person, I went there, looking for Ash wood.

Bonhoff is a wholesale yard. I love to visit; There are stacks of boards twenty feet long and forty feet high, in an enormous hangar and a vast open yard. Two forklifts zip about all the time, picking up half-stacks and moving them here and there so that customers can choose the pieces they need. All of the wood is rough-cut, and I bring a pocket knife so that I can scrape away the fuzzy, splintery, dirty surface to get an idea of the color and grain underneath. Most of the boards are too heavy for me to lift. Buys are made in tonnage; while I was there yesterday, I watched the forklifts work together to place a load of mahogany into a truck that visible sank onto its shocks as the weight registered.

I am a little buyer. One half board can last me for months– and given my lack of productivity last year, last a whole year, arrgh! But the Bonhoff office welcomes me as if I were a treasured account, every time I show up with my pocket-change. And the yard men sometimes have a short piece that they’ve saved from the dump with me in mind. I was offered a styrofoam cup of coffee, petted the lumberyard cat– who could be close kin to my own tribe– and flirted with, all before the manager told me that Joe had a stack of Ash down on the ground for me. I reminded him that I only neded four or five feet. To cut a length off of a board is tricky for the lumberyard, as the remaining piece has to be long enough for the average sale. He told me that ten feet was the minimum , so anything I found that was longer would be fair game. And Joe cared even less. He cut me four feet off a twelve-foot board and tucked the rest of it away for me. I told him I’d be back for it in a month or two.

Bonhoff is not the only lumberyard that has such pleasant employees. In fact, I can think of only a few times when moral has been low in any yard I’ve visited. I think hanging around wood tends to keep people happy.

Jun 282006
fairytale magic wands for a little girls party

Fairytale Magic Wands

I got the email in plenty of time; could I make 18 magic wands for a little girl’s birthday party? First of all, I needed the money badly- who wouldn’t! and even more importantly, I began making these in the first place- as presents for the kids.
After a few emails, we came to our agreement.
In a phone call, my client proved to be possessed of a brisk sense of humor, and a natural talent for story-telling. She told me that she made up stories that carried on from year to year- My magic wands were to be part of this years’ tale.
I made my “Student wands” in light-colored woods- Oak and Ash. I painted them Pink, Blue, Green, Violet, and sanded them back again, so the grain showed clearly. I drilled the ends and dropped a Czech Aurora Borealis bead into the hole, so that it glittered and glimmered in a most mysterious way!

My client called me again, and asked if I could provide sheaths of some sort, so Cami and I sewed up some very simple ones- unlined, rough canvas, with silly sheer ribbon ties.
What a gorgeous package it all made!

Monday was the day after the party. I called the house, to see how it went. The child answered the phone.

“Is your mother there?”
Who is this?” the girl asked, and when I said “Well, this is Dragonmom” there was a gasp.
The babysitter took the phone, and behind her, I could hear the girl saying “It’s Dragonmom, it’s really Dragonmom!”

Mom walked in the house, while I was still on the phone. I said; “I was calling to ask if the package got there, and I guess it did!”

She said; “She thinks you’re a little old lady, and you live in the middle of the forest and you take care of all these baby dragons…”

The party was a huge success, the girls were so excited about their wands- magic-ed, they were told, by the baby Dragon Scale set in the base (the bead) for the purpose of protecting all small animals.

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